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SOWINS 'Have a Heart Radiothon' annihilates dollar target, speeds toward $60,000

Friday, appropriately enough on International Women's Day, the South Okanagan Women in Need Society (SOWINS), in conjunction with Bell Media and Penticton radio stations Move 97.1 FM and Bounce 800 AM, held its second consecutive "Bell Media Have a Heart Radiothon" at Cherry Lane Mall.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> The SOWINS gang hanging out at the mall

Last year the debut effort raised approximately $27,000. Not bad for a first time.

But nowhere near their total this year.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

As of Saturday, that 2024 total stood at $59,000-plus – more than double 2023 and nearly $35,000 more than their $25,000 target.

SOWINS fund development advisor Marni Adams was ecstatic.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Marni Adams

"We're keeping the campaign (which began in February) open for a few more days for those who couldn’t get there Friday," she said. "I'm hoping a few more donations and maybe we hit $60,000. That would be incredible."

Friday at the mall, SOWINS opened up its box of tricks and the public responded. They served Blenz coffee and Honey Toast cookies out front to drive-thru donors most of the day, while inside they staged a raffle and upped their visibility to the max.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

The mood was upbeat and the place was hopping.

Hopping like a bunny. Because they brought a bunny. A friendly bunny. And even he was an attraction.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Dexter

"Dexter is a certified therapy rabbit," said his owner, SOWINS' Priscilla Healey. Healey's been with the organization, on and off, since 2014 and says she has a "passion for the work SOWINS does."

"It's a great organization," she said. "There are so many opportunities. And it’s a women-serving organization that also supports women. And it supports women as employees as well."

Dexter, she told us, is a hit with just about everyone.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Priscilla Healey and bunny

"He got his certification right at the beginning of COVID," she said, "and he's great with clients. He doesn’t bite and he's really friendly.

"Because he's a rabbit, there is some novelty to him. But also he's a prey animal so it's really great for teaching about the nervous system and the effects of trauma. And with kids he helps teaching about boundaries."

SOWINS executive director Liz Gomes called the Have a Heart campaign "huge."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Liz Gomes

"Financially it's huge," she said. "We rely on community support to help fund our programs so we can keep up with the demand on our services.

"And right now, we’re at capacity. That means 24 beds in our shelter and seven beds in our second stage units are full. Our counseling programs are seeing five or six women a day, plus the children who come through the program."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

According to Gomes, one out of every three women has experienced abuse in their lifetime.

"And a new stat just came out," she added, "that of all the women in relationships, 44% of them have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

The next big SOWINS campaign will unfold in the late fall, as it traditionally does. It's called "Share the Spirit of Giving," and we’ll have more news when it's available.

There'll also be a brand new SOWINS fundraising event this fall that Adams hints will be a "dinner and cocktail thing" with an auction "and all the stuff that usually goes along with this type of event." More on that as well as the weeks roll on.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

In the meantime, to donate to SOWINS, either in the next couple of days while the Have a Heart campaign is still open, or afterwards (when they still need the money!), head to its website here and click the "Donate" button.



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